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March 25, 2020

Over the past several weeks, we witnessed the outbreak of COVID-19 and its devastating effects on communities around the world. Most of us have connected with our neighbors and friends over shared feelings of uncertainty, fear, and sympathy for those affected. During this time of isolation, Boston Partners for Peace is offering ways to interact across oceans and take action. This week, we launched the Pathways to Peace Learning Series, an ongoing series of opportunities to connect and access stories from Israeli and Palestinian peacebuilders that unite and inspire us.

In Israel, NGO’s are struggling to stay connected with the communities they serve, to bring divided societies together, and to sustain themselves while prevented from international travel, which is essential for their awareness building and fundraising. We aim to build bridges between the struggles in Israeli and Palestinian societies and residents of Greater Boston looking for ways to help. We started our series this past...

March 20, 2020

This blog post was originally published by Hanan Schlesinger, founder of Roots and West Bank peace activist, on March 5, 2020. 

The joyous, sometimes boisterous, holiday of Purim is approaching. Twice during the holiday, Jews will publicly read the Book of Esther, in which Hebrew Scripture recounts the events of over 2,500 years ago that the celebration comes to commemorate. Haman the Agagite, a very high ranking official in the court of the Persian king, hatches a diabolical plot to exterminate all the Jews of the immense empire and then bribes the king to adopt the genocidal plan. All would have been lost if not for the ingenuity and courage of Queen Esther, who risks her life by simultaneously revealing herself as a Jew and confronting the evil Haman, thereby convincing the king to save the Jewish People from the evil decree.  Haman and his ten sons are hung, and the Jewish subjects of the Persian Empire are given free rein to wreak vengeance against their enemies, ultimately ki...

February 27, 2020

Over the past several months, we have watched an exhilarating and exhausting election season unfold in Israel and the United States. This coming Monday, March 2nd, Israelis will go to the polls to cast their votes in the third election within 12 months. We hope that this time the party leaders will be able to form a successful government and bring stability to the Israeli political theater.

In the last two elections, the right wing and left wing blocs did not receive enough votes to form a government on their own and each side’s parties were not willing to form a unity government. You may remember that Benny Gantz, the leader of the Blue and White party, pledged that he would not form a coalition with the Likud party while Prime Minister Netanyahu is under indictment. Despite his legal issues, the Likud party had an internal primary in December and overwhelmingly chose Netanyahu to remain as party leader. Based on the polls, the results of this election should be very similar to the las...

February 12, 2020

This week, Jews around the world celebrated Tu’bishvat, also known as the “Jewish Arbor/Earth Day.” The holiday is meant to remind us of our connection to the earth and to our role as caretakers of the environment. Traditionally, Jews observe Tu’bishvat with a festive meal, and some modern practices include donating money to plant trees. Zionists who planted trees after the founding of Israel are said to have “made the desert bloom,” and the practice continues to today. Nature is miraculous, as recently shown through the work of the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies.  Researchers at the Institute planted a date palm from an ancient seed which has grown into a healthy tree they have aptly named “Methuselah.” Methuselah is a male tree that won’t bear fruit, but they are also beginning female trees and we might soon know what dates tasted like in ancient times.

Reviving ancient trees is only a small part of the work of the Arava Institute. At the Institute, Palestinians, Jordanians...

February 6, 2020

In the opening of his book, Letters to my Palestinian Neighbor, author Yossi Klein Halevi writes that “one of the main obstacles to peace is the inability to hear the other side’s story.” Over the course of 10 letters, Yossi attempts to convey the Israeli-Jewish narrative about Israel to an imagined Palestinian audience, in the hopes that they will listen and respond to his story. Many did, and the newest version of the book contains a selection of those Palestinian responses. When woven together, these letters start to reveal the Palestinian narrative, at times overlapping with the Jewish perspective and, more often, conflicting with it.

Starting next week on February 11th and 12th, over 30 young adults will meet in various locations across Greater Boston to discuss the book, share their perspectives on the conflict, and reflect with one another. Over the course of the book club, they will discuss the book, meet with a Palestinian to gain a firsthand perspective, and come together for...

January 23, 2020

This blog post was originally published on October 18, 2018. We are reposting it in advance of our upcoming event with the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies on February 6, 2020. We hope you will join us to meet two recent alumni, Shira Fisch of Moshav Yaad (Arava Institute ’19) and Mohammed Jarrad of Tulkarem (Arava Institute ’17) as they discuss their experiences and the impact of those experiences. 

When many of us think about our future, we think about how climate change will have a significant impact on our lives.  The Paris Climate Accord signed in 2015 was groundbreaking in its stipulation that every country has a collective responsibility to protect the earth and adopt measures to minimize climate change.  Even so, the agreed-upon goals fail to adequately address the negative effects in the coming decades. Last week, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a report written by 90 scientists with a dire warning for the future of planet earth. They believe tha...

January 10, 2020

Throughout their history, peacebuilding efforts have primarily focused on promoting equity and diversity of voices between Israelis and Palestinians. More recently, there has been a call for diversity of involvement within these movements across demographics, specifically age (the next generation) and gender (women’s involvement). Considering that women account for 50% of the population, their influence over decisions that might affect their lives should reflect their presence in society. This week, I want to highlight the work of two movements that have been formed, both in Israel and the US, to provide women with opportunities to have their voices heard in the peacebuilding landscape. Both initiatives were inspired by UN Resolution 1325, which aims to “ensure increased representation of women at all decision-making levels… for the prevention, management, and resolution of conflict.”

When I was in Israel this past December with JCRC’s Study Tour for Civic Leaders, we were fortunate to...

December 27, 2019

I recently returned from Israel with the JCRC Study Tour in Israel for Civic Leaders, where State Senators from the Massachusetts Legislature participated in an in-depth 10-day tour of Israel. Our trip came at a politically salient time for Israel, as an unprecedented third round of elections were being organized. It was a historic moment in Israel’s history, to say the least. Following these events, we framed our learning around the potential consequences. What would a peaceful future for Israel look like under potential new leadership? What were the issues most important to Israeli voters and how were they being mobilized? Who were the citizens and non-citizens that make-up the diverse population of Israel and the Palestinian territories? Throughout the week we received clarity on these issues, and I was privileged to obtain even more insight upon my return.

Crucial to understanding the complexity of Israel were our meetings with grassroots organizations doing people-to-people wo...

September 12, 2019

This week, the Parents Circle Families Forum hosted a webinar to introduce their new Palestinian co-Director, Bassam Aramin. Like many others involved in the Parents Circle, Bassam was motivated to join the group after his 10-year old daughter was killed by a stray rubber bullet from a clash with Israeli border police. As Bassam recounted his journey to understand the Israeli perspective, I was moved by his story of emerging from time spent in an Israeli prison with a changed mindset. 

Bassam grew up in Hebron, where he witnessed the West Bank occupation by Israel after the 1967 war. As a teenager he became involved in resistance efforts, throwing stones at Israeli soldiers. He was eventually arrested and spent seven years in an Israeli prison. He decided to take the time to learn Hebrew because he wanted to improve his efforts to challenge his Israeli enemies. As part of his class, he watched a Holocaust documentary which fundamentally challenged his beliefs. According to Bassam,...

August 7, 2019

On Wednesday, August 14th Boston Partners for Peace will host a bar night for young professionals at Bow Market. We hope you will join us for a fun and inspiring night to learn about Israelis and Palestinians working together to better their societies. We’ll hear from Lobna Agbaria, Program Director at Our Generation Speaks (OGS). Lobna is a Palestinian citizen of Israel and an entrepreneur.  Through a 3-month accelerator program each summer in Boston, OGS empowers Palestinian and Israeli leaders to create start-up ventures that will have significant social and economic impact in each of their societies. The program brings the next generation of entrepreneurial leaders in their 20’s and 30’s together in the hope of building a new, shared generation of leadership based on trust and mutual understanding.

One of the main barriers to Israeli-Palestinian cooperation is the lack of contact between them.  People from the two societies often don’t have the opportunity to meet one another until...

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